The Ne'er-Do-Well eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 342 pages of information about The Ne'er-Do-Well.
standing upon the floor.  A tremendous French chandelier of sparkling crystal cascaded downward from an American ceiling of pressed metal; at regular intervals around the wall were panels painted to resemble marble.  Crouched upon a rug in one corner was a life-size figure of what seemed to be a tiger, perfectly colored and made of porcelain.  It had tremendous glass eyes, larger even than the cousin’s from Guatemala, and they shone with a hypnotic intensity that was disturbing.  Kirk wanted to kick it and cry “Scat!” Hidden in other desolate quarters of the room were similar studies in animal life.  These anomalous surroundings by turns depressed him and provoked an insane desire to laugh.

What he ever talked about during that evening he never quite remembered.  At one time the Cholo girl who had admitted him entered noiselessly, bearing silver plates of fruit, and shortly afterward he found himself trying to balance upon his knee a plate of pineapple soaked in spice and wine, a fork, a napkin starched as stiffly as a sheet of linoleum, and a piece of cake which crumbled at a look.  It was a difficult bit of juggling, but he managed to keep one or two of the articles in the air almost continuously.

When it came time to leave he expected at least to be allowed a farewell word or two with Gertrudis, but instead he was bowed out as ceremoniously as he had been bowed in, and, finding himself at last in the open, sighed with relief.  He felt like a paroled prisoner, but he thought of the girl’s glance of sympathy and was instantly consoled.  He crossed slowly to the Plaza, pausing a moment for a good-night look at the house, then, as he turned, he caught a glimpse of a figure slinking into the shadows of the side-street, and smiled indulgently.  Evidently Allan had been unable to resist the temptation to follow, after all, and had hung about hoping to overhear his hero at his best.  But when he had reached his quarters he was surprised to find the boy there ahead of him.

“How did you beat me home?” he inquired.

“I have been waiting h’impatiently ever since you went out.  To be sure, I have had one little dream—­”

“Didn’t you follow me to the Garavels’?”

“Oh, boss!  Never would I do such.”

Seeing that the negro was honest, Kirk decided that somebody had been spying upon him, but the matter was of so little consequence that he dismissed it from his mind.

“And what said your female upon your proposal of marriage?” Allan inquired.  “Praise God, I shall h’expire of suspense if you do not cha-at me the truth.”

“Oh, there was a chorus of her relatives in the room.  They sat in my lap all the evening.”

“Perhaps it is fartunate, after all.  This senorita is rich ’ooman, and therefar she would be h’expensive for us.”

Kirk managed to drive him forth after some effort, and straightway retired to dream of timid Spanish girls who peeped at him from behind old ladies, porcelain tigers that laughed inanely at his jokes, and Guatemalan gentlemen with huge hypnotic eyes of glass.

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The Ne'er-Do-Well from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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